TV coverage of the current Iraq crisis looks a lot like 2003, when pro-war pundits, former generals and hawkish politicians dominated the debate. CNN's Situation Room, hosted by Wolf Blitzer, illustrates how TV has returned to that narrow, pro-government discussion of Iraq.
Over the last week, the show has given Iraq significant airtime. But the range of views it has sought out has been remarkably narrow.
From June 12 to 19, the show has featured 30 guests discussing the Iraq crisis, either in one-on-one interviews or roundtable discussion segments. Eight of those guests were former US military officials, like former Central Command chief Gen. Anthony Zinni and former European Command chief Gen. George Joulwan. Five were former Bush administration officials like David Frum--the speechwriter who took credit for coming up with the "Axis of Evil" speech--or pro-war politicians like John McCain. And five were pundits who had been in favor of the Iraq War to begin with--people like Ken Pollack, Fareed Zakaria and Reihan Salam of the National Review.
Eight participants in roundtable discussions were CNN journalists, like Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr and correspondent Christiane Amanpour. The show also featured a current State Department spokesperson, journalist Sebastian Junger (who made a documentary about Afghanistan) and Tara Mallar, a former CIA analyst. There was one interview with an Iraqi, Ambassador Lukman Faily.
Plenty of people were opposed to the Iraq War before the invasion. CNN could have called on some of the politicians, activists, journalists and regional experts who got the Iraq War right (Extra!, 4/06). But for whatever reason, their expertise is not in demand on shows like the Situation Room, where those who helped to create the Iraq disaster are called on as experts about what the US should do next.
Tell CNN's Situation Room that its coverage of Iraq should feature more of the analysts and journalists who were right about the Iraq invasion--instead of featuring so many who got Iraq wrong when it mattered.
CNN Situation Room